Singer, songwriter Cosima Jaala has just released ‘Joonya Spirit’, the second album under the band moniker of JAALA. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips phoned Cosima for a chat about it.
It doesn’t take long into a conversation with singer, songwriter Cosima Jaala to realise that she doesn’t take life too seriously. Her paucity of words in response to questions is more than made up for in her spirit, honesty and an almost mischievous outlook on the world. Granted, she’d just woken up and was still finding her morning bearings but I get the impression her persona wouldn’t change much throughout the course of a day. We’re chatting about Joonya Spirit, her band’s second album which was released on the 20th of April. It was recorded back in 2016 but for one reason or another, hasn’t surfaced until now. At the time of recording, the band’s permanent lineup consisted of Cosima and her drummer friend Maria Moles. Since then Jaala has become a trio with the addition of synth player Carolyn Schofield and performance-wise, Cosima believes the band has moved on as well.
“I hope people aren’t disappointed if they like the album and come and see us live,” she tells me. “I remember when we played in January we got Facebook messages from fans saying I had lost my rhythm. I was like … I don’t care. I am different now. People can be mean on the internet.”
Through her teens, Cosima was nourished by the Triple J playlist, from Lenny Kravitz and Bob Marley to Bjork and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She picked up the guitar initially because it “goes loud” but her ever-changing tastes and interests have altered the way in which she uses the instrument to create her art. The importance of volume has been replaced to a degree by an attraction to textures and layers. “I think Nic Lam, who played on the record did a really good job at adding textural stuff,” she says when I ask about guitarists she currently admires. “The lead guitarist vocalist from Methyl Ethel too, he has a really dreamy sound that’s not shreddy in any way, it’s more about layers I guess.”
While Cosima is more into the intricacies of music now, she still doesn’t like to dwell on a project for too long. Jaala’s acclaimed debut album Hard Hold and the new one Joonya Spirit were both recorded within the space of a week.
“I have a lot of friends who work on stuff for ages and I don’t l know if I can do that,” she says. “I think there is something nice in doing it all in one go and not being too precious about it but at the same time still being precious about it, if you know what I mean?”
Cosima admits to the traditional “strum” or “noodle” on guitar as her preferred method of songwriting but finds the practice odd. “Yeah sometimes I’ll sit down and have a strum,” she laughs. “Making songs is kind of like an embarrassing notion though. It’s like, I’m going to find a quiet corner and express my feelings now. Don’t tell anyone about it, don’t look at me! I’ll just have a noodle and see what comes out.”
Her guitar of choice is a 60s era Bobcat Harmony and her effects consist of a “cool” reverb pedal. “I got the guitar off a friend and another friend wrangled the price down for me,”she says of how she acquired the guitar. “I liked how small it was and how old it was. It’s one year older than my mum. It’s falling apart and I need to get it fixed.”
Being relatively fresh to the world of recording, Jaala accepted the offer from The Drones guitarist Dan Luscombe to assist in the production of the new album.
“Dan was there throughout the recording and helped us produce it,” she says. “He was amazing, really good. A knowledgable hand to have on deck. He had incredible enthusiasm and positivity and encouragement I guess. I don’t know anything about the recording part and I don’t know whether I really want to know. I feel that there are others who are much more proficient and skilled at it than I am. I feel like recording is a really amazing aspect of music and it’s a really privileged thing to do … to record your music. A lot of people would like to and don’t. I am super grateful that I got to record the songs. I was a bit bummed that they sat on the shelf for so long but that’s pretty common I think.”
Jaala is keen to get back into the studio. With the material on Joonya Spirit being a couple of years old, there’s a need to document the band in its current creative space. For now, they’re in the process of organising a tour to promote this album, which at this stage will see the band perform in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
“It will be small but hopefully super fun. I’m playing with Maria and a really amazing synth player called Carolyn Schofield, that’s what the live band is now. It’s a bit stripped back but I have always enjoyed playing with Maria because she is the best drummer in the world and Carolyn is incredible, so it is a real pleasure to play with them.”
At the time of this interview, it was merely days before the release of Joonya Spirit. I wondered how she might be commemorating the day. In her typical whimsical style, Cosima replied, “Maybe I’ll go into the garden and pop some champers and have a cigarette.”
Jaala’s Joonya Spirit is available now: https://jaala.lnk.to/joonyaspirit